RANDOM Times •

To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

7# Who’s responsible for the Little Drummer Boy?

4 min read

Here’s the surprising history behind your favorite Christmas Carols!
What if “The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Frosty and the “One Horse Open Sleigh” had nothing to do with Christmas?
Singing Christmas songs goes hand in hand with baking Christmas treats, listening our favorite Christmas tales, watching our favorite Christmas movies, and not only.
Like everything around this period of the year, everything has a story.
From songs that have been saved from being erased forever to not really knowing for sure where a song came from, here is the history of a few Christmas Carols you know and sing still today!

Enjoy our Advent Calendar 2022!

_________

🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 18 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄

_________

No one knows for sure who wrote this popular Christmas carol once called “Carol of the Drums” due to the refrain “pa rum pum pum pum” that sounds like the beating on a drum.
A big classic, in this period of the year.

Credit has been attributed to famous American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis, who may have based the song on the old Czech carol “Hajej, nynjej”, although the recording artists Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone also get credit.
And the daughter of composer Jack Halloran also claims that her father was the originator of the version we all know and love.
While we may never know what the true source of this song is, you can bet you’ll have the refrain stuck in your head for the duration of the season!

But what is the carol really about?
And what is the history behind the ‘Little Drummer Boy’ character that it features?
Let’s take a beat and find out.

Drummers have been used in battle since the age of Genghis Khan’s 13th-century Mongol Hordes, right up to the early years of the 20th century, when modern warfare relegated them to the status of ceremonial use only.
Actually the icon of the ‘drummer boy’ emerged, in its romanticised form, around the time of the US Civil War (1861-1865). Drummers were used on the battlefield to keep time, and regulate and maintain the marching of troops, as well as to provide different combinations of drum beats in military camps to communicate specific messages.
Their role demanded that they be at the front of the military action unarmed, so they were required to be absolutely brave, as well as absoutely vulnerable.
Many drummers that became famous served very young. A small Johnny Clem ran away from home at the age of nine to serve in the Union army, and rose up the ranks to become an officer, and then a general, after the US Civil War.
And another young drummer, Robert Hendershot, was dubbed the ‘Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock’ when he was made famous for serving heroically at the Battle of Fredericksburg and capturing Confederate soldiers, generating some Union morale-boosting news from the front.

Well…but who is The Little Drummer Boy in the Christmas carol?
Although he seems to carry the same brave and earnest attributes of the drummer boys romanticised by the US Civil War in the 19th century, he is not an explicitly military character. In fact, the carol’s lyrics suggest he is a young drummer marching onwards to attend the birth of Jesus Christ. He is too poor to be able to present a gift to the son of God so, at the behest of the newborn’s mother, Mary, the young drummer continues to drum instead of giving a material gift.

I played my best for Him, Then He smiled at me,” the lyrics say as the drummer gives the gift of his music.

Given the timing of the carol’s publication, which occurred during the Second World War, a military nod in a carol would not have felt out of place in spite of the overall story of the lyrics.
In any case the carol has been recorded by lots of high-profile artists over the years, including by the Trapp Family (1951), Johnny Cash (1963), Joan Baez (1966), Bing Crosby and David Bowie (1977), and Justin Bieber (2011).

_________

🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 18 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄

_________

MORE STORIES
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2018
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2019
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2020
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2021

_________